Characterization of On-Field Head Impact Exposure in Youth Soccer

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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  • 1 Wake Forest School of Medicine
  • 2 Virginia-Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering & Sciences
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The objective of this research was to characterize head impacts with a validated mouthpiece sensor in competitive youth female soccer players during a single season with a validated mouthpiece sensor. Participants included 14 youth female soccer athletes across 2 club-level teams at different age levels (team 1, ages 12–13 y; team 2, ages 14–15 y). Head impact and time-synchronized video data were collected for 66 practices and games. Video data were reviewed to characterize the type and frequency of contact experienced by each athlete. A total of 2216 contact scenarios were observed; heading the ball (n = 681, 30.7%) was most common. Other observed contact scenarios included collisions, dives, falls, and unintentional ball contact. Team 1 experienced a higher rate of headers per player per hour of play than team 2, while team 2 experienced a higher rate of collisions and dives. A total of 935 video-verified contact scenarios were concurrent with recorded head kinematics. While headers resulted in a maximum linear acceleration of 56.1g, the less frequent head-to-head collisions (n = 6) resulted in a maximum of 113.5g. The results of this study improve the understanding of head impact exposure in youth female soccer players and inform head impact exposure reduction in youth soccer.

Tomblin, Pritchard, Filben, Miller, Urban, and Stitzel are with the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA; and the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Virginia-Tech-Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, USA. Miles is with the Department of Family and Community Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC, USA.

Urban (jurban@wakehealth.edu) is corresponding author.
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